The blissful strings 'n' things of Amiina

For the past eight years, Amiina has been best known as Sigur Rós' string section. Since 2005, however, the Icelandic act has also struck out on its own, first with the AnimaminA EP, and now with a debut full-length, Kurr. The time spent with its countrymen has rubbed off on the all-female quartet: Its music possesses that magical, bittersweet vibe, although the sound is generally gentler and more playful than its peers. To create these same atmospherics live, the ladies have more than 30 instruments at their disposal, including laptops, electric saw, harmonium, and even tuned wineglasses. They sing as well, but not in any conventional sense — Amiina's voices are just more beautiful instruments in the entrancing mix. Amiina performs on Thursday, April 12, at the Swedish Hall at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15-17; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com for more info. Michael Alan Goldberg


Amazingly, Ted Leo found a way to take the Strummer-esque intensity of his Shake the Sheetsand crank it up a notch on his latest release, Living With the Living. He lashes out with rage against the war machinery on "Bomb.Repeat.Bomb," easily the most explosive song in Leo's catalog. But that's just one of many moods he works to maximum effect on a sprawling event of an album that clocks in at more than an hour long, a disc packed with soulful ballads, a Beatles-esque love song, Clash-ish reggae, an Irish folk ballad that rocks like the Pogues, and the most infectious putdown of the CIA. you're bound to hear all year. Catch Ted Leo in the flesh on Saturday, April 14, at Slim's at 9 p.m. Admission is $16; call 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com for more info. Ed Masley


No shit: I had a dream this morning where one of the members of XBXRX told me, "It can also mean ‘sebicks sericks,'" and I thought, of course! Our conversation made perfect sense at the time, and absolutely none afterward — which is a pretty apt description of this local combo's music. Wars, the group's third and latest album, is an impossibly fast, dense maelstrom of tweaky art-core — 12 songs in under 28 minutes — fueled by the manic morse-code drumming of Weasel Walter. Originally formed by a bunch of 14-year-old Alabaman delinquents, XBXRX has retained that too-much-sugar, haven't-yet-discovered-sex vibe and channeled it into songs that explode rather than unfold. At the band's notorious live shows, the audience usually returns the joyful violence in spades. XBXRX performs on Friday, April 14, at the Hemlock at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $8, call 923-0923 or visit www.hemlocktavern.com for more info. — J. Niimi


The buzz on Los Angeles trio the Oohlas comes courtesy of New York City's Ultragrrrl — the asymmetrically coiffed tastemaker who had the balls to dub My Chemical Romance the new Nirvana. Luckily these SoCal kids have little in common with eyeliner emo, taking cues instead from mid-'90s college rock. With lo-fi production worthy of Matador Records' golden era, the band builds sonic tidal waves by layering crunchy guitars — played by former Everclear drummer Greg Eklund — with Pixies-style fuzz and random bits of found sound (one track ends with real audio of rabid soccer fans rioting on a subway car). Meanwhile, singer Ollie Stone's little-girl voice walks the line between eerie and playful. If the hipsters can unearth more bands like this, then by all means, blog on. The Oohlas perform on Wednesday, April 18, at the Rickshaw Stop at 8 p.m. Admission is $10; call 861-2011 or visit www.rickshawstop.com for more info. — Maya Kroth

 
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